Void structure of O <sup>+</sup> ions in the inner magnetosphere observed by the Van Allen Probes

The Van Allen Probes Helium Oxygen Proton Electron instrument observed a new type of enhancement of O+ ions in the inner magnetosphere during substorms. As the satellite moved outward in the premidnight sector, the flux of the O+ ions with energy ~10 keV appeared first in the energy-time spectrograms. Then, the enhancement of the flux spread toward high and low energies. The enhanced flux of the O+ ions with the highest energy remained, whereas the flux of the ions with lower energy vanished near apogee, forming what we call the void structure. The structure cannot be found in the H+ spectrogram. We studied the generation mechanism of this structure by using numerical simulation. We traced the trajectories of O+ ions in the electric and magnetic fields from the global magnetohydrodynamics simulation and calculated the flux of O+ ions in the inner magnetosphere in accordance with the Liouville theorem. The simulated spectrograms are well consistent with the ones observed by Van Allen Probes. We suggest the following processes. (1) When magnetic reconnection starts, an intensive equatorward and tailward plasma flow appears in the plasma lobe. (2) The flow transports plasma from the lobe to the plasma sheet where the radius of curvature of the magnetic field line is small. (3) The intensive dawn-dusk electric field transports the O+ ions earthward and accelerates them nonadiabatically to an energy threshold; (4) the void structure appears at energies below the threshold.
Year of Publication
Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics
Date Published